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Shire Hobbiton Cafe
Owned by a couple buddies who probably had too much Lord of the Rings paraphernalia to keep in their own homes, Shire Hobbiton sits on the edge of the Li River and offers an escape from the hubbub of downtown. Artwork from the books and movies decorates the inside, and a colorful map of Middle Earth hangs above the entrance outside. The java is strong (they roast the beans themselves), the menu is in English and there’s board games and free Wi-Fi, so even if you’re not transported to the Shire, you’ll be hard pressed to be moved anywhere else for a couple of hours.
Rosemary Cafe offers some of the best Western food in the area, making it popular with longtime expats. Pop in for a pizza and some of the only baked dessert around (ovens aren’t common in this part of China), or wander in for a daytime latte to sip on while you read one of the many English books they have on the wall.
Gourmets Coffee Cafe
Opened by a Taiwanese-American man, Gourmets feels like it was plucked out of Portland and plopped down on a sleepy street in Guilin. There’s an extensive coffee list, a myriad of books to flip through and a menu of sandwiches and snacks.
Unit1-6, 18 Binjiang Lu, Guilin
Some will turn their nose at the idea of getting their caffeine fix from the international chain, but the huge location in the Mengshidao Shopping Mall can be a haven for those missing home. The coffee is consistent, the Wi-Fi fast and the seasonal beverages are often influenced by Chinese holidays and flavors.
Before you ask, yes, that is the name of a Bob Marley album. And yes, the cafe plays reggae. But it also plays Chinese folk, funk and occasionally jazz. It’s a laid back coffee shop that often doubles (or triples) as an art exhibition, concert venue or even party headquarters.
Ya Mi Coffee
Pronounced like “yummy,” this massive coffee house is just that. In a display just inside the door sit oodles of sinful cakes and cookies that can be enjoyed there or taken on the go. Beyond coffee, they have dozens of loose leaf teas that are served in glass teapots. Get one of the flower teas, even if it’s purely for Instagram purposes — the blossoms open up in the hot water, making for a beverage that’s almost too pretty to drink.